Reading Recommendations: The Rise and Fall of a Texas Dynasty, The Murchisons, Jane Wolfe- An intimate biography of one of America's richest families, The Murchisons reveals the secrets of the ultimate Texas oil clan. The rise and fall of the Murchison family in three generations is a paradigm of Texas during the last half century. From boom to bust.
Clint Murchison, Sr., started as a country boy selling possum skins for pennies and became Americas first conglomerator; oil fields, race tracks, hotels, real estate, publishing. A friend of Dwight Eisenhower, Joseph McCarthy, Richard Nixon, J. Edgar Hoover, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, he not only knew how to make millions but how to spend extravagantly on himself and his wives.
His son John increased the family fortune developed the ski resort of Vail, won Wall Streets biggest proxy fight, and jet setted around the world. John's younger brother, the brilliant and wickedly witty Clint Jr., created and built the Dallas Cowboys, while becoming as famous as a relentless ladies man. Though Clint Jr. shared his father's passion for making deals and greatly increased the fortune using borrowed money, soaring interest rates and falling oil and real estate prices in the 1980's brought him to one of the largest personal bankruptcies in history. Ironically, it was not outsiders who triggered the Murchison's downfall, but the family itself. When times turned tough, long festering resentments in the third generation erupted into bitter intra family lawsuits.
Much more than one family biography, The Murchisons is a revealing documentary of one of the most dramatic chapters in Texas history. The insights and strategies discovered in the Murchison's story provide valuable lessons for the business oriented reader, as well as every reader who wants to learn how other people have profited from or have been defeated by greed, genius, energy, lust, good and bad fortune, family, and love.
And, Jeff Davis's Own, Calvary, Comanches, and the Battle for the Texas Frontier, James R. Arnold- In 1855, a unique crisis demanded a unique response. The government's relocation of Eastern Native American tribes and the increasing encroachment of settlers threatened the survival of the Great Plains tribes, most notably the Comanche. The "Lords of the Plains" reacted with furious raids against frontier settlements in Texas and Mexico.
The government's answer was the Second Cavalry, created by U.S. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis. Designed from its inception to fight a mobile war with innovative tactics, this select unit not only helped turn the tide of the battle of the West, it became the crucible that forged the commanders of both sides of America's next great conflict. Sixteen of the officers who accepted appointments to the elite Second Cavalry became Civil War generals. No other regiment in the American army, before or since, produced so many general's in such a short time.
The reader will recognize many names such as Earl Van Dorn, Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnson and John Bell Hood. The settings for much of the conflict will be familiar to the reader as well.
I found this book very hard to put aside. Excitingly told and meticulously researched, Jeff Davis's Own is an intriguing and colorful saga of the commanders who united to fight an enemy on its native ground, then divided again to face each other across the battlefields of their own homeland.
And, This I Can Leave You, A Woman's Days on the Pitchfork Ranch, Mamie Sypert Burns- When D. Burns arrived at the mighty Pitchfork Ranch as the new manager in 1942, he walked straight into the hostility of a lot of longtime hands who did not much cotton to the idea of taking orders from an outsider. Gradually, though, D. and his wife, Mamie, won allies and made a place for themselves on the historic spread. For the next twenty three years Mamie jotted down stories about the cowhands, the cooks and gardeners at the Big House, the many guests, and her lively family.
"My book is about ranch people", she writes "more than it is about ranch history, or its skunks and rattlesnakes." It is a book that warmly and humorously shows us a way of ranch life that vanished from the Texas plains when machines came to change the way big ranches are run.
All three of these books are from the Texas Bookshelves. I personally have loved my "Texas Time" and plan to do it again-
See you at Rylander!